Do Weblogs Improve Writing?
Will Richardson asks whether weblogs improve writing. He thinks "the jury is still out on that one." But we already know the verdict.
Frequent writing improves writing. We've been teaching this lesson since time began: writers write. The streets of the city are full of people who wanted to write, but never could manage to do it; instilling the habit of frequent writing is the indispensable first step. Weblogs require regular updates; weblogs improve writing.
Writing for an audience improves writing. Why else have we developed our elaborate apparatus of writing workshops, seminars, student magazines, and literary magazines? Weblog provide an audience; weblogs improve writing.
Writing that matters improves writing. Writers only develop by attempting work that matters to them. You can, perhaps, develop voice and technique by writing grocery lists, but writing about things that matter is, ultimately, essential to a writer's development. So, too, is developing a facility for shifting among topic and genre, lest the writer become an ad-writer or an obit-writer or an insurance writer. To be effective, weblogs cross genre. To be timely, weblogs cross topic. Weblogs improve writing.
Writing on a computer improves writing. We've done the experiment, and the advantage was so overwhelming that today, just about everyone who writes professionally, whose work depends on writing, either writes on a computer or writes elsewhere as an dramatic, performative statement. Weblog tools are computer tools -- especially client-side tools like Tinderbox and City Desk: weblogs improve writing.
Lots of kids don't care. That's not news, or evidence. They never did, they never will. Not everyone wants to be a writer. Especially not when they're 15. Teaching is a tough racket.